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Burkina Faso coup leader seeks refuge in Vatican embassy

Burkina Faso coup leader Gen. Gilbert Diendere, centre (AP Photo, File)

General Gilbert Diendere, who led the short-lived military coup in Burkina Faso last month, is reportedly seeking refuge in the Vatican embassy in the West African country’s capital city.

According to the press agency Associated Press (AP), someone close to the Catholic clergy – speaking anonymously because he is not the official spokesman – said that the military leader had retreated to the Vatican Apostolic Nunciature in Ouagadougou.

General Diendere seized power on September 16, overthrowing the former transitional government. On September 22 the army withdrew, and the following day President Isaac Zida was restored to power. General Diendere apologised for the coup, saying that it was a mistake and that “we knew the people were not in favour of it. That is why we have given up.”

Diendere has told AP he is willing to surrender to authorities.

“I am willing to turn myself over to face justice,” he said. “I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue. All parties must talk to find an inclusive solution for the future of the country.”

Burkina Faso, formerly called Upper Volta, is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and has had a history of political turmoil since it gained independence from France in 1960.